When you think of the word "loyalty," what comes to mind? I think of other concepts that I associate with loyalty: character, perseverance, commitment. Loyalty is the bedrock of our nation's existence. Our defense, prosperity and future depend on our commitment to our nation and to each other. We depend on each, we must, to survive. Just as loyalty is essential for successful marriages, it is essential for prosperity in our country.
I am belaboring the benefits of loyalty, because I fear the destruction of trust and loyalty undermines our society, particularly in our labor market. In the past in this country, employees retired from companies after many years of mutually beneficial service, usually capped by lavish retirement parties and gifts. Other countries, such as Japan, are still loyal to their workers. These companies recognize their employees' contribution to the company's growth. A company does not succeed on the sweat of a CEO's brow alone. Yet, today in this country, managers and some politicians ignore the tremendous contribution of their workers and the decimation of morale and trust when loyal workers are fired en masse because of greed. Unfortunately, the victims of these mass cutbacks are older workers.
A friend of mine who works at a very large bank summed it up for me. She doesn't expect a retirement party when she leaves. She doesn't even expect a severance package that older workers before her were forced to take. The bank has figured a way to slough off the older workers without severance additional pay. They just remove the senior employees by offering an unsuitable demotion. The choice is either humiliating termination or a humiliating demotion. The employee is in a lose/lose situation. What a nice and fair way to remove the most loyal contributors to the corporation's wealth? After all, the Supreme Court and some politicians confuse the lifeless corporate structure for an actual person. How screwed up are we?
Unfortunately, many people let go from their jobs are the oldest workers among us. In our culture, we do not venerate older people for their lifetimes of experiences and the lessons they have learned. Loyalty and wisdom are easily displaced by greed. A man in his 60s has few options in a job search. He is considered washed up and tired, and our population is growing older and older.
What happened to loyalty and decency? Doesn't it make you want to fire a fat cat CEO with an inflated salary thousands of times higher than those of the common employees? Let's hope we don't become a society more focused on greed than on loyalty. Corporations can be successful and loyal, e.g., Costco and Carmax. What is the matter with some people?